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Accidents and sickness happen a lot more often than people think. Studies even show that 20-year olds these days have a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before they reach the age of 67. That’s a worrying statistic and many people should be aware of the requirements of Social Security for disability eligibility so that they can be assured of getting the benefits they will eventually need.
The basic requirements for getting disability benefits are: (1) a person has worked long and recently enough to get Social Security work credit and (2) that the person is deemed disabled and won’t be able to work. Applying to receive the benefits is easy, but the process usually requires the help of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer like those from Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. This is because you’ll need to prepare a solid claim and boost your chance of approval, thereby allowing you to avoid possible hearings in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).
If you do get your benefits, your troubles aren’t over. You can receive disability payments until you reach your full retirement age, which is around your mid-60s depending on your birthdate. When you reach retirement age, the disability benefits are automatically converted to your retirement benefit. However, you may not want this to happen.
Leaving it alone may result in you losing your spousal benefits; spousal benefits are half of your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s retirement benefit. This can mean a lot of money depending on your spouse’s total retirement benefit. Laurence Kotlikoff, an expert on Social Security matters, recently wrote about how to save this potential windfall in a recent article for PBS NewsHour’s Making Sen$e:
The second option when you reach full retirement age is to file a withdrawal request form (SSA-521) stating the following: “I wish to withdraw the conversion from disability to retirement benefits that would otherwise occur at full retirement age, per section B.4 of POMS GN 00206.005.” POMS stands for Social Security’s Program Operating Manual System — in other words, Social Security’s definitive rulebook.
In filing this form (and you can do so up to four months before reaching full retirement age and 12 months after reaching full retirement age), you gain the option of filing just for your full spousal or full divorced spousal benefit at full retirement age and waiting to file for your own retirement benefit until, say, age 70, when it will be 32 percent higher (after inflation) than your current disability benefit.
This is just one of the things you’ll need to know when dealing with your disability benefits. Professional help from a disability lawyer can help you get the most out of your Social Security disability benefits.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law